Last Monday, Epic Games announced that Unreal Engine 4, the development engine best known for its use in the creation of Gears of War, is now freely available to download for all users.
This is the latest in a series of headline-grabbing moves by Epic, who made waves last March by offering subscriptions to independent users, and again in September when it began providing free subscriptions to schools and universities. (Previous versions were only available to large development teams.)
“When Unreal 4 came out as a subscription last year, we jumped on it,” says Chad Kendall, Program Director for Full Sail’s Game Art bachelor’s degree. “However, the process of getting the student copy sometimes took over a month, making it difficult to plan courses. Now that students can just download it on the spot, it has removed those barriers.”
The removal of that final obstacle creates a pathway not only for gaming students, but for indie developers everywhere. According to Chad, the free-to-download model “brings more people into the creation of making games” and “allows developers to experiment and create without the costs hanging over their heads.”
Epic will continue to collect royalties for lucrative games and applications – 5% on gross revenue after the first $3,000 per product, per quarter – and feature premium, user-submitted content in the Unreal Engine Marketplace.